Wednesday, September 21, 2016

NEWS!!

My request for a one year extension for tenure has been granted!!

This is significant not just for me, but for others as well because I am the first one to try to use this new policy, so I have set the precedent here for others. This doesn't quite make up for all the shit I had to go through last year, but it at least gives me more of a fighting chance.

Because that piece of stress has been eliminated, and that mine and my family's life does not hang in the balance anymore and I won't spend the next 8 months filled with anxiety, I can breathe and get to work now. I can focus on the tasks at hand. I feel much more hopeful now that I'll actually not flake the eff out on this book chapter. Perhaps some of this will rub off on the Magpie and she'll feel less stress, too.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

In the depths

I just sort of feel like my life is falling apart right now.

I am completely overwhelmed by the project on which I'm currently working (and for which I've already gotten a month extension) because I am foolishly trying to cram a year's worth of work into about six weeks. Or I guess rather had I begun chipping away at the project when it fell into my lap, I'd be done already. I finished the other one. The editor hated my idea, seriously, and to be honest, it wasn't that great anyway, but he really hated the idea, so that required some major revisions which meant time away from big project because he wanted them in two weeks. I got them done in a week, and I have no idea if they are good enough yet, so that has me on edge. Also, under our new university policy, because the Magpie has been ill since birth, and then ill again this summer (that e.coli really fucked things up for me this summer--she's fine, I didn't mean to sound as horrible as I did because obviously her health comes first), which is the primary reason that this stuff isn't done yet as it should have been, I can apply for a year extension for tenure. So, I would go up next year. Except... 1) No one has applied for this before, so no one knows what to do, 2) I spent a week working on my letter to go with my request, 3) It's been over a week since I submitted my request and I haven't heard anything yet, and this is a problem because 4) if I get denied, my portfolio is due by 10/3. But since I have this huge awful project looming, I don't want to devote hours of research and writing time to the tenure portfolio if I don't have to. I've got my stuff all gathered, it's the writing for it that's not been done, and if I have to, I can knock it out in a weekend, but the portfolio is going to look rushed, and I'd rather it not. I've been told at the department level, I'm fine. At the college level, probably not because not all my stuff is in print and letters from the editors for the forthcoming stuff probably won't be good enough, which I think it bullshit, but whatever.

In the meantime, like this week, I have my sister's baby shower out of town, and then we move Sunday, and we're spending this week trying to get as much packed as we can. I'm more worried about tenure than I would be if we weren't buying a house. It was too good of an offer to pass up, especially if we are staying, and the house would not have been around for a month, let alone a whole year. On top of all of this, my very heightened stressed out state has had an impact on the whole family. The J is on edge, my mom is freaking out (and it does not help me for them to tell me to stop freaking out and to calm down--that just seriously pisses me off more), and then there's Magpie. She was potty trained. We were doing great. Now? Complete regression. She has decided that she is not going to be potty trained any more. We've talked to the pediatrician about it and her daycare, and we are trying our best (I'm not sure that the daycare even believes that she was actually potty trained), but there we are. We all understand that this is her way of coping with the stress. She has made a decision not to use the toilet. And she wants the comfort of babyhood because she's stressed out, too.

In short, I feel like my incompetence in my work is destroying my family. I know in part that the mere act of being in the new house on Sunday is going to make a difference simply because there is 600 sq. feet more of breathing space and a giant fenced in outdoor space, so I'm hopefully just the lack of crowding will make a difference.

I meditate every day, too, to help with this. I can tell it's helping, but still.

Until that letter comes back and I know how to focus my energies (on my research or on the appeal, because all hell will break loose, actually if it is denied. The J is ready to go to the mattresses), I feel like I'm drowning. I am going to crash in November, and it will not be pretty.

I just want to scream to the universe. I want the universe to help, to open the heavens and put forth light and warmth on me.

Every fucking day is a struggle. I have no energy for my research right now (though I chip away as I can almost daily) because I feel like all the energy I have is in holding myself together so I can function, so I can teach (though that takes way more energy than I have--I'm using up the reserves here, quick), so I am not a fucking broken down mess at work.

I never never ever want to be in this position again--academically, emotionally, physically, and financially. Ever.

Thanks for listening, y'all.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Full Panic Mode

Our house issue is resolved.

Since the short sale is the hindrance to any kind of legit loan (which took a while to realize, sadly, because neither of us are financially savvy), so the sellers agreed to do a lease to purchase with us so that we have time for the short sale to go away, time to save, and we still get the house, and they do not make two mortgage payments. So for all intents and purposes, we are buying the house. We move this month.

What the fuck am I doing??!! Moving while trying to write a book chapter due at the end of September (which, um, yeah more on that below), tenure portfolio due in October, and since I foolishly perhaps thought that I'd be done with all of this stuff before now, I radically altered a course and am teaching a bunch of new stuff, which in March seemed doable and like a great idea! On top of this, I do not like my hair. Yes, I know, it's hair. Who cares. But if I feel ugly in my hair, then the world crashes around me, my self esteem plummets, and it begins a downward spiral. Fortunately, really for the first time ever, I've identified exactly what it is I do not like and why, and I am not waiting out of fear of hurting the hairdresser's feelings to get it fixed immediately. Unfortunately it will probably cost me, but it's my fault in the first place (he did exactly what I asked him to do, and it's a lovely color and cut but blah, blah, blah). Normally I wait a couple of weeks to see if I'll settle in to it, but I won't this time, and I know why, and rather walk around for two weeks feeling like shit about myself and not getting anything done, I'm fixing it tomorrow. At least I can get it fixed before school starts.

And then there's that. The start of the quarter. Meetings on Tuesday. Classes for me start Friday. Ridiculous.

I have a naive hope that the new house will help me to be more productive. (Although the time I need to be super productive is right now,this month, a mad dash for all the things). Why? There's more space, for one. In theory I should have a place to actually sit and work. Two, our hope is that as we move, we are getting rid of things that we do not need, do not want, have no place in our lives, including the storage unit. Also, the hubs has a storage cage at work that we can use for a while, so we can store stuff there and we have easier access to it to go through stuff and cull our possessions. This is helpful because we are going to start moving stuff today to make room in the house. So maybe perhaps as there is more room in here as we begin the moving process, the more I'll be able to get done because there will be less clutter here.

Because we're not draining our savings on a bad loan, we will be able to hire actual furniture movers this time, so that's wonderful! That is going to be the best thing ever!! So when it is time to move, that will make moving day go so much faster and less stressful on us.

Anyway, there's the haps y'all. Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 26, 2016

House Saga, Episode II

I really want this house. However, it's really hard for me not to feel like the universe is telling me through the difficulty of buying this house that this means that tenure is out of my grasp and we need to be able to cut and run. 

My mom thinks no, this all has happened to make sure that the house didn't go on the market and that it is being saved for us.

The J says, "this is house is so awesome, we just have to work to earn it." 

I wish I were that positive. I'm trying.

The FHA Loan... well, while I'm sure there's a legit FHA loan out there, and I'm sure ours would have been somewhat legit, and the guy has been super thorough and nice, but damn, we got the final loan estimate thing yesterday, and holy f*cking sh*t. Between closing costs, fees, insurance, and some other stuff, the total due at the closing would be nearly 10% of the loan. If I had that sort of money to begin with, I wouldn't be in the situation I'm in. 

Obvs, the first lesson is don't try to buy a house unless you really have the money in savings for it, and don't depend on a VA loan. The second lesson is to be not so irresponsible with money and spendy. 

In the meantime, the J has been trying to find a VA loan from another lender. So now we are back to square one, and starting all over again. I did at least double check with this woman to make sure that we are not going to be hit with over $11K in closing costs, which she said was excessive for the home we are trying to buy. Anyway, what's embarrassing is having to go to our friends, yet again, and tell them we are back to square one. 

I think I've decided though that unless they text us for an update, until we have something concrete from the new lenders, and somewhat of an estimate of the closing costs, then we'll decide how to proceed. 

Last night I was beside myself again. This morning, I was super negative still. Now, I've had a chance to work out, I've looked into the lease to purchase option which might be something they would consider (we really want this house), although we understand if they don't want to, because the house will sell, and will sell quick, so we'll see. My pride is hurt. I'm embarrassed. I'm actually as angry at the second loan people as I am the first because I feel like I was on the point of being hoodwinked (although, the guy working with me is probably in the same position I was in when I sold pools for a shady company--you try your best, and it's the other people that are the swindlers), but we are in no way forking out that amount of money, and in no way asking the sellers to try to cover that either. It seems shady and unfair. So, we will not do that. 

Anyway, there it is. I will get some work done on an article today. And I'm guessing by this time next week, this will in some way just about be over. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Update

So our bank fucked us over.

Our house that we're buying may be in jeopardy, even though we were preapproved.

As we went to finalize the application, they missed that our house in Home City was a short sale, thus rendering the VA Loan unapprovable, even though they had already approved us. What we got was a "oh, we're sorry this happened. Someone will get feedback on this mistake. If you have $12,000, we can get you a conventional loan." If we had 12K, we wouldn't have applied for the VA Loan. And as I'm sobbing on the phone, "well, I hope you have a nice weekend."

It took everything in me not to say "fuck you and your weekend."

I then spent the rest of the afternoon and part of the evening trying to get another loan. The problem? The VA Loan does not require a down payment. All other loans do. Did we put money aside for a down payment? No, because the VA Loan doesn't require one.

What we have now is an FHA Loan, which, well, apparently is a pain in the ass for sellers to deal with and requires a minimal down payment, but the guy who helped me worked very hard to get me even this. The J cannot even be near the loan because the house was in his name and thus the short sale affects on his part of the application, so it's all me.

Now, because we know what a pain an FHA Loan may turn out to be for the sellers, who are our friends, I will talk to them tomorrow, and the J and I agreed that if they wanted to back out of the sale, we would understand and allow it to happen. He doesn't seem to think they will because they are anxious to get rid of their house so they can move and relieve the commuting burden on the wife, and the J seems to believe that the FHA inspection isn't going to be any more of a pain than an VA Loan inspection would be, but it may be a mess.

I have never felt so poor and so incapable of being an adult as I do now. I know the stigma attached to an FHA Loan, and I feel the pain of embarrassment of my financial incompetence and our lack of planning (because, duh, no down payment for the VA Loan), and I am swamped in grief and sadness at the possibility of the home we want slipping away when it was so close.

It's really in the hands of the sellers now. We will understand if they want to go a different route, and there will be no hard feelings on our end, but it just has me really really sad and stressed that this may all be gone in a matter of 24 hours. I will probably try to pop over there sometime this afternoon if they are home. So we may know something by tonight. Sigh.

I have done very little other than cry and drink since Friday night. It's all very distressing because I'm one to think of things like this as a sign from the universe. If the house falls through, then that means that the universe is indicating that I won't get tenure and we'll need the mobility to move. But the problem is if we stay in this house, with its high utilities and rent that will actually be more than the mortgage (not by much, but on top of the utilities being lower at the house which is significantly better insulated, and we wouldn't have our storage unit anymore, we're looking at maybe about $3200 a year in savings, which isn't much but adds up over time), it means that our ability to save is far lower because just that extra $272 a month that we could save is wasted. So, it all just makes me want to puke, because that $3200 a year over two years would be part of a down payment on a house in another city if he have to move. It also means that if I don't get tenure and end up unemployed, that extra $3200 a year may make the different in living off ramen or you know, being able to feed the kid while I look for work. I know this is all worst case scenario stuff, but please don't say "maybe it's not meant to be." Because that means worst case scenario in the future.

Oh well. We'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Haps

Well, my major thing that I'm supposed to be working on? Okay, I haven't started it yet. And classes start in about three weeks. Yikes. Oh, and I've not even started thinking about classes. Or my tenure portfolio (although if the bulk of it is tracking down materials, I've got all of that already). The major project, due at the end of September. Tenure portfolio due mid October. I've actually taken a couple of weeks off. My one week off turned into about three. Ooops. Even my training schedule has faltered a little bit.

But...
OMG. I can't even believe we are doing this, especially since tenure is so tenuous right now, but...

We're buying a house. I know. On the one hand it seems so irresponsible to do so, I think. But here's what happened. The wife of one of my history colleagues got a job in a city an hour away--a great job doing what she's supposed to be doing at our university. Believe it or not, her boss is worse than mine. Anyway, her job is 8-4:30, which means she will leave here at 6:30 in the a.m. to get to her
M-F job (they also have a 14 mo. old). So colleague's schedule is obviously way more flexible, thus they are moving to be closer to her job, and obviously they are selling their house. We have been half ass looking for a house. He texted me: Bro! I ran into so and so! You're looking for a house. We're selling our house. We're very motivated sellers. Want to come and check out the house?

We did. It's about 600 sq. ft. more than we have now. Still 3bd. 2ba., but there's a bonus room off the garage that will be the office/bar. A nice sized kitchen area with a separate eating area and a kitchen bar that overlooks a nice sized living room. The master bedroom is larger than what we have now. Three walk-in closets. A screened in patio area and a fenced in yard. All at the absolutely low end of our budget (which, if we were responsible people, should really be the high end of our budget). We looked at the place at 1. We had a loan and an acceptance of our offer before 3pm. It's also in a very nice, lived-in neighborhood with lots of trees and cul-de-sacs. And, four of my history/poli sci colleagues live in the neighborhood as well, one of whom is a very good friend, and one of whom is becoming a good friend. We are hoping to close mid-October. I am crazy for doing all of this now!

It's a lovely house. They actually don't want to give it up. But they are happy for us to be buying it.

Because this place is what it is, for many, this will look good that I'm buying a house pre-tenure because it will indicate to them that we're now rooted to this spot. For others, it will look like I'm arrogantly expecting tenure. And yet for many of those people, in both camps, there may be some blow back as to the neighborhood we bought in--we bought in the history neighborhood. My boss, and two of my other colleagues, have been lobbying for five years to get us to by a place in either of their respective neighborhoods. But I do not want to live next to my boss. No. No. No. Plus, she lives right downtown, in an older part of town, with houses that haven't been updated since the 60s, and have no yards whatsoever and no place safe for kids to ride bikes or play or whatnot and is surrounded by college students, apartments, and businesses. No. Another colleague, no, I just don't want to live next to her. I know that's terrible. And the neighborhood of the other colleague backs right up to one of the fraternity houses with whom she is constantly having trouble. So, no thank you there. It's a little ways back, but it's so cute and lovely. I wish there were four beds and three baths, but given our debt and no down payment, there's no way we can afford that. But it's a great size. The yard is big (front and back), there's lots of natural light (which is a must for me), and well, it's just the perfect little house for us (at the very least, for now). Anyway, it's exciting. I think.

The kid finally moved up to the next room. She started back on Wednesday. She is so much happier now. Totally different kid than we saw six weeks ago the last time she was at school. For real. No finger crossing. We only cried on Wednesday, not yesterday. She's in a fantastic mood when we pick her up. Not the "release me from this prison" as before. Wednesday we couldn't get her to leave. So that it really great, too. She's been happy the last two days when she's come home. And it hasn't been a struggle to get her to school either. She had been acting out in the morning. But this week, so far, none of that.

So there's that. It's good. Now I just need to get my shit together and start working again. It's crunch time. I can do it. I know I can. Then when we get into the new house, I can just sit and enjoy it through the holidays.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

This is the year I go up for tenure...

I go up for tenure this fall, as most of you know, as I have been bemoaning this for the last two years.

Inspired somewhat by Historiann's "Hannah" guest posts, and for the sake of my my own sanity, I thought I'd document the tenure process here, mostly because I feel like things really could go south for some of the same reasons that we saw with Hannah (though I have nowhere near the scholarship chops she has; however, no one in my department has that level of scholarship either). I feel like there are lots of similarities between her dean and mine and my chair. My chair has, repeatedly, over the last year, tell me how no one respects the scholarship I'm doing, which, from someone NOT in my field, someone NOT with a Ph.D. in English, from someone who writes for an on-line magazine about local art festivals (and claims that as scholarship, and has for years), it is not only insulting, but discouraging (as it is meant to be). Now, would my publications carry weight on their own at an elite institution? As the Honors Director put it, "We're not at Harvard. What you're doing is more than adequate for here." Okay, not the most ringing endorsement, and not a slam at my work either because he did say there was value in what I'm doing, and that people have been tenured by citing blog posts as their scholarship (with that being their ONLY scholarship).

Anyway, I digress.

I feel like as the female of the two of us going up for tenure this year, I'm going to be under way more scrutiny than my male colleague, regardless of the strength of my tenure portfolio. I'm worried that everything I do, from the way I dress to the way I teach is going to look like politicking, which is what my boss and dean and other colleagues want me to do, but which I'm going to be penalized for despite this being their wish because I am afraid they will read it as "for show" all of sudden. Basically, right now, I feel as if I can't win. I have people rooting for me, but I'm not sure it matters.

Look, if I have to smile, and look pretty and play nice this year and agree to everything to get tenure, when I get tenure, the gloves will come off, and I will fight to make sure that the next female junior faculty who gets hired will not be treated the way that I have been treated, because it's stressful and bullshit, for one thing, but mostly it's just straight up WRONG. There's a reason, clearly, why I'm the ONLY female junior faculty in the department. And if we didn't have a kid, if the J didn't have a job (and was just in school here), I would have been outta here a long time ago. But that's not the case.

So, there it is. On Monday I get back to my research schedule and try to get as much done as I can before classes start after labor day. The kid will probably still be home all the rest of the month as well, so I've got to balance work outs, research, life, and time with her, as well as class prep.

I am also waiting for the other shoe to drop. I just have a gut feeling that I'll be taking over wayward colleague's upper division class in the fall. Nothing will convince me otherwise, not even the start of classes (because that is usually when I get the call--after classes have started). I will not be convinced until we make it through the second full week of classes either. That feeling is just settled, gnawing in my gut. Every time the phone rings, I immediately assume it's my boss calling to ask me to take over the class.

I have decided that not only am I going to gleefully accept his class for the fall, but say, "why don't you just give me all of them for the year!" Seriously though, why the fuck not, right? Make them pay me an overload all year. Anyway...

And now, I go back to trying to clean and declutter to make my room a more work conducive environment  for the time being. I have spent a year trying to get rid of things. And it seems the more I get rid of, the worse it gets. Oh well. There it is.